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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 2)

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Question about confit:  I recently did some duck leg confit sous-vide.  Individual duck legs with salt, etc. and a tablespoon or so in each bag.  80C for around 7 hours.

So... how long is this safe to keep in the refrigerator?  When prepared the traditional way, one hears of confit kept cold for months and months.

Well, I dont know of any general rules for this. I think there is much of a similarity between a sous vide that long and a 100 C or bellow canning for a given type of food. Offical regulations here (Quebec )say 2 weeks for food canned at 100 or under (non acidic and with no preservatives that is) but I think that in France the same process can be said to keep for 6 months (expiration date) if kept in the fridge.

I had a 9 months old sous vide pork belly confit in my fridge that I hesitated eating. I spoke with a friend who has a degree in biology and he told me that about any baterial activity would have to release CO2 (metabolism) and thus would get the bag to become inflated. I also thought that the reheating process would kill any live bateria and destroy thermolabile toxins (of which botulinic toxin is). So I heatted it up, tasted a bit (tasted wonderful) and caramelised a bit of mapple sugar with my blowtorch before serving. The meal was exquisite and there was no side effects :biggrin:

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So maybe my strategy will be something like that: bring the water to a boil (the highest temp we would ever want to "sous vide" at), add the bag, and periodically check the water for traces of food coloring. Every 15 minutes, maybe? Maybe I will do it on the weekend when I am "watching" football all day.

I tried this today: I filled one of the handi-vac bags with food-colored water (dark red, in honor of halloween) brought the water bath to 190 F, and added the bag, checking on it every 20 minutes. After 10 hours, the bag was still intact and showed no signs of weakening. This does not say anything about what the bag may or may not be leaching into your food, but from a structural standpoint, the Reynolds Handi-Vac bags will, I believe, work just fine for long-term sous vide cooking. I will continue using the slow-cooker liners in mine to eliminate any potential leaching, and I think they will work great as a "poor man's sous vide". Plus, they make pretty good freezer bags, too :smile: .


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I'm a newbie here and ready to try my hand at Sous Vide-  I'm pretty lucky that I live near a major university that sells off unneeded items at a surplus store very cheaply, so I was able to pick up a used Immersion Circulator for $5- and yes, I cleaned it well...and they have a strict policy for sale of lab equipment that was used for anything toxic or anything like that. I was going to use a large stock pot, but reading through this thread got me to thinking about using something insulated. I tried the university surplus store again, but no luck (though they did have a very small cold immersion circulating bath for $35 yesterday), so I headed to a couple resale shops last night and found the perfect cooler for $1.50 (half off night).  I'll have to take pictures to really explain it, but it was one of those you can plug into a cig lighter to cool/heat, so I took the working part off, leaving about a 6" opening across one short end along the top to insert the immersion circ through, keeping the rest covered to cut down on evaporation & heat loss. The interior dimension are 11"x16"x8"deep- sound okay?

I already had a FoodSaver & wireless digital thermometer, so my total cost so far have been $5 for the immersion circ,  $1.50 for the cooler, 50 cents for a small, flat drainage pan to bend into a protective shield to keep the bags from hitting the heating coil. Add a couple bucks for a disposable catering pan to line the cooler, and I think I have a pretty good set up for under $10...now I just have to get my courage up to actually try cooking some of the Certified Angus Beef steaks I have in the freezer. Any suggestions?

I envy your finding an immersion circulator for 5 dollars. I've been looking all week and am having no luck. Everything reasonably priced (200$-300$) looks like it was used during an ebola breakout in some 3rd world country!

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now I just have to get my courage up to actually try cooking some of the Certified Angus Beef steaks I have in the freezer. Any suggestions?

I have done a lot of experimenting with steaks (mostly ribeye and a couple of filets) and would say that sous vide works great on very thick steaks (I'd say 1.25 inches or thicker) and results in a great texture and mouth feel -- especially if (like me) you want the steak medium rare but with a nicely crisped crust.

With steaks that aren't thick even a short sear on both sides at really high heat results in a steak that is fine but not really preferable (in my opinion) to a grilled or sauteed steak.

On the other hand a 1.5 inch thick ribeye cooked at 130 degreed Fahrenheit for an hour and then quickly browned in a VERY hot cast iron skillet is to die for. We've also tried it with really thick filets and they are great, too. I have found that with the ribeye, you get more rendering of the marbling than cooking by traditional methods which makes the mouth-feel especially sumptuous.

I heat my cast iron skillet for about 10 minutes on high heat and when the steak comes out of the bag, it gets seared for about 30 to 45 seconds per side. This enough time -- if the pan is very hot -- to get a nice crust without burning the outside or heating up the middle of the steak.

Just my .02,

Edward

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I envy your finding an immersion circulator for 5 dollars. I've been looking all week and am having no luck. Everything reasonably priced (200$-300$) looks like it was used during an ebola breakout in some 3rd world country!

The funny thing was I just happened to find it by chance & wasn't even looking for one. I'd seen them used on Iron Chef & read a few articles, but never gave it much thought until I happened to spot the one at the last second before the surplus store closed a few weeks back. Even then, I thought about selling it on Ebay until the city decided to flush the water line, turning our water orange. I'd already put stuff in my hair when I noticed this, and didn't want to run any hot water, least the rusty water get into my hot water tank, so out came the immersion circ & a 5 gallon bucket. It worked great & I figured at that point, I was definitely going to keep, so I might as well read up more on cooking with it too.

I am keeping my eyes out for any more heating immersion circulators, though I only get to the surplus store once or twice a month. I probably won't be allowed to go back for awhile, since I bought 2 Steelcase cabinets for my basement pantry this week....it was buy one get one free, so 2 of them for $15 was too good to pass up. Plus they keep putting out more & more cookbooks from a special collections library for $2 each, and needless to say, I've added a lot to of cookbooks to my already large collection.

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Question about confit:  I recently did some duck leg confit sous-vide.  Individual duck legs with salt, etc. and a tablespoon or so in each bag.  80C for around 7 hours.

So... how long is this safe to keep in the refrigerator?  When prepared the traditional way, one hears of confit kept cold for months and months.

I think if you're going to repack the legs by taking them out of the vacuum bags, submerging them in duck fat, and then putting them in the freezer, there's no reason you couldn't keep the legs for as long as traditional confit. I think it's more problematic if you intend to just store the legs in the vacuum bag for extended periods of time, as once it congeals at refrigerator temp, I wouldn't feel comfortable about that small amount of fat fully covering the legs. Personally, I usually can't be bothered to repack the legs, as I don't have a lot of duck fat just lying around, so I just eat the confit within a few days.


---

al wang

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Question about confit:  I recently did some duck leg confit sous-vide.  Individual duck legs with salt, etc. and a tablespoon or so in each bag.  80C for around 7 hours.

So... how long is this safe to keep in the refrigerator?  When prepared the traditional way, one hears of confit kept cold for months and months.

Traditional duck confit is stored in fat to keep oxygen away from it - it was a traditional approach to the same sort of sealing you get with a vacuum bag.

Confit cooked sous vide in a vacuum bag should last just as long, perhaps even longer, than traditional confit. The amount of fat in the bag does not matter, the sealing is handled by the bag not the congealed fat layer.

Note however a couple of caveats. First, there are many "confit-style" duck recipes that use less salt in the curing process. These may not work for long term storage.

Second, even though traditional cured confit was stored for months, that doesn't mean it was an optimal thing to do for either taste or food safety. I have stored sous-vide cooked confit for months in the refrigerator as a test (and it worked), but in general I recommend using it up in a couple weeks.


Nathan

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I have done a lot of experimenting with steaks (mostly ribeye and a couple of filets) and would say that sous vide works great on very thick steaks (I'd say 1.25 inches or thicker) and results in a great texture and mouth feel -- especially if (like me) you want the steak medium rare but with a nicely crisped crust.

Hopefully Sunday I will get a chance to try it out- and maybe even take pictures of my setup too. I would like to be able to prepare my steaks ahead of time, then freeze them for later use/reheat. I assume I would drop them in an ice bath as soon as I pull them from the Sous Vide bath and then drop them in the deep freezer to keep. But what would be the best way to treat when I take them out? Defrost in fridge, I would assume, bring temp hot in water set at the same temp as I did for original Sous Vide and then pan sear quickly?

BTW- remember the refrigerated immersion circulator bath I saw at the university surplus last week that I mentioned seeing for I think $35? I looked at PolyScience's site and I think the refrigerated part through me- that, and I was looking for something to put my portable immersion circ in- but I'm pretty certain now that its combination Refrigerating/Heating Circulator. It had the standard PolyScience analog immersion circ in a table top unit, extremely clean looking to boot. If I get a chance on Tuesday, the next day they are open to public sales, I'll see if I can get more info on it.

Slightly off subject, but are there any other weird piece of lab equipment I should be on the look out for?- most people get weirded out when I start talking about using non-kitchen equipment in my kitchen, especially lab equipment. I already use Pyrex beakers & flasks, as well as test tubes & pipettes from there with my essential oils & such for making lotions & soaps. I would like to find something more efficient for dehydrating foods then cheesy plastic food dehydrator I currently have. Would a vacuum oven work? I see them fairly often & fairly cheap. I've also thought of some of the incubators- it is a major agriculture university after all. Any other ideas?

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Finally found a nice/clean Haake D8 immersion circulator for a decent price (not 5$ like Annie's but much less than others that are in much worse condition). Now I just have to wait a few weeks for it to be deliverd from Canada. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good bath? I would like to use something cheap but if need be I'll pay for an acrylic bath.

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Has anyone tried to use a Techne C-85A or C-85D circulator for Sous Vide? I just picked one up on eBay for $5 so I figured I'd give it a shot. It only has analog temperature control, but once a temp is dialed in it holds it to within 0.05 degrees C (at 37 degrees C nominal), so stability should be good anyway. I think its flow rate might be a little high, but you can put in a bypass to slow it down. Any suggestions for optimal flow rate (maybe as a function of bath size)? At zero head it flows at 12 liters / minute.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Finally found a nice/clean Haake D8 immersion circulator for a decent price (not 5$ like Annie's but much less than others that are in much worse condition).  Now I just have to wait a few weeks for it to be deliverd from Canada.  Does anyone have any suggestions for a good bath?  I would like to use something cheap but if need be I'll pay for an acrylic bath.

I picked up a used Igloo cooler to use mine with- solves the insulation/loss of heat issue. It was just a hair too shallow, so I still have to put a mounting bracket on the side to attach my immersion circ to. Its also great to store the immersion circ in when I'm not using it.

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Christmas is almost upon us and my mind has wandered to Sous-vide turkey.

Am thinking of filleting the bone out of the carcass reserving the skin. Using the Jaccard tenderizer, then brining the breast and leg in milk. Wrapping the elements back in the skin with stuffing in the middle and cooking at 60oc for 4hours.

Anybody got any views/advice as a lot of you cook Turkey more than we Brits do?


“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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Turkey works well sous vide.

One thing that can be an issue however is that the time it takes for the core to get hot can be a long time if the product in the bag is too thick. So I generally would not recommend trying to do a whole turkey ballotine, which is what you are suggesting.

Elsewhere in the thread are the time tables for thickness.

Instead I would recommend taking the breasts off the bone, and bagging them. Even better, cut to individual serving sizes and bag them.

Legs should be done separately - they can be tough so would want more time. Thighs are intermediate between the two.

60C / 140F is great for breasts. It is safe - US FDA has time/temperture tables even lower. You should make sure you hold it at that temperature for a while.

60C/140F is safe for the legs & thighs, but most people will freak out because they will be pink on the inside and might have reddish juices. So, many people would prefer a higher temperature - say 70C/158F. It is a matter of personal preference.

Turkey legs and thighs can be also done confit style, in which case you can season like one would duck leg confit (several eGullet threads on this), put some oil in the bag (vegetable oil, duck fat, goose fat, or even bacon grease), and cook at 70C/158F to 80C/176F for 8 to 12 hours.

You can do stuffing sous vide, but the value of sous vide is lower for stuffing, in general. If you do it, press the bag to make it relatively thin, so the interior heats quickly.


Nathan

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. . . brining the breast and leg in milk . . .

I haven't encountered this before, is it exactly as it sounds - soaking in salty milk?


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Does anyone know of any other references for sous vide cookery? Outside of this thread, I've not been able to find any other reliable information. It's just that I've read this thread a few hundred times and am eagerly awaiting Sous Vide Cuisine by Joan Roca and Salvador Brugués.

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Am eagerly waiting Sous Vide by NathanM. I want an inscribed 1st edition.

I've brined in Buttermilk before, got the idea from further-up this thread at 6% salt. Works fantastically well with all white meat, pork especially.

There's reference to it in the Boulevard cookbook.


“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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Hey Nathan,

Great information throughout this thread, thanks.

I just purchased sous vide equipment at the club I work along with Roca's book.

Searching the web for sous-vide recipes is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Do you have any links to sites with actual recipes. I guess most recipes can be converted using the time and temperature tables you provided, I'm just not sure how certain ingredients will react under sous-vide conditions, (say adding garlic, how much is too much etc.)


Edited by chefjim (log)

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Does anyone know of any other references for sous vide cookery?  Outside of this thread, I've not been able to find any other reliable information.  It's just that I've read this thread a few hundred times and am eagerly awaiting Sous Vide Cuisine by Joan Roca and Salvador Brugués.

Joan Roca's book has been available for a couple of years and is quite helpful. You should be able to find it. (very expensive!)After that I don't know who will be the first - Thomas Keller, who is said to have one in the works, or Nathan. I am looking forward to both of them.


Ruth Friedman

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TK does have a book in the works with Michael Ruhlman. If I understand correctly this project has been in the works for quite a while.

Christmas is almost upon us and my mind has wandered to Sous-vide turkey.

Am thinking of filleting the bone out of the carcass reserving the skin. Using the Jaccard tenderizer, then brining the breast and leg in milk. Wrapping the elements back in the skin with stuffing in the middle and cooking at 60oc for 4hours.

Anybody got any views/advice as a lot of you cook Turkey more than we Brits do?

Ideas in Food has done something very similar to this, which was then repeated at testkitchen.typepad.com. The whole ballotine is an attractive idea--one that I may try this year--but nathanm brings up fair points as to the variable ideal temperatures for each part of the bird. Also, the Ideas in Food application requires pretty extensive used of TG to create one solid brick of meat.

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Yeah I saw that and have the activa, but I was wanting forcemeat in the centre.

I was thinking 60c for 5hrs, based on NathanM's orginal charts of doneness.


“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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First, I'd like thank everyone who has put together information in this thread and also those who have shared their experiences. I finally got around to picking up a vacuum sealer and trying out sous vide. I took 3 chicken breasts and did one with thyme and olive oil, one with a curry paste, and one with truffle oil. I cooked them at 141F for 1.5 hours based on their thickness using nathans chart. The results were spectacular. I fed these to my family who had no idea I had used sous vide(or what sous vide is) and the praise was very high. Everyone wanted to know where I got my chicken. Thinking it was the chicken that gave it such great flavor.

[Moderator note: This topic continues in Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 3)]


Edited by Mjx Moderator note added. (log)

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